Sales with a serving of Storytelling

People don’t buy for logical reasons they buy for emotional reasons- Zig Ziglar

1001 Arabian Nights

Are you sitting comfortably?

The art of storytelling is losing traction in the increasingly fast paced Dubai life but its sales people could still benefit from this ancient tradition. As a consumer, try to remember the last major purchase you made. What role did the salesperson play in your decision making? What persuaded you to buy that product? Successful salespeople know how to tell a good story. They appeal to your emotions using a variety of techniques. Perhaps you just haven’t met a really good salesperson in a while if you don’t agree at all?

All stories need some basic elements in order to succeed. A hero or heroine ( the customer or you!); stimulus ( a buying decision); conflict ( objections); crossroads ( when a purchase is made) and finally a good moral (satisfaction in making the right decision).

There are a number of situations a salesperson can find themselves in in which it will be appropriate to tell a story involving these elements. They may need to provide context for their product which resonates with the customer, they may be presenting their product to an audience, motivating a sales team or even selling themselves.

The benefits of storytelling are numerous. They can captivate and hold the attention of clients; build rapport and trust; add interest and relevance to a product; change minds and win loyalty. There is Science behind it too. When we are told a rich story full of relevancy, the sensory, creative and more emotional right side of our brain is stimulated. If only the left side is engaged, as experienced during a dull sales presentation, we make more logical buying decisions. A story simply put helps the customer experience your product and emphathise with the seller.

So how can this help you? Perhaps you think you are not a great storyteller. I assure you, you are better than you think. We tell stories every day to our families and friends. Sometimes we tell them stories they may have told us. You need to sit down and think about your product. Connect your story to your product, it should be personal. Your story could also be about you, your company history, a customer’s experience with your product or even how you create your product. Just don’t forget the tenants of storytelling and dispense with bullet points, they don’t engage and produce emotion. Running your story by someone won’t hurt either the best raconteurs have told their stories a few times!

The constant hustle and bustle of a Dubai salesperson’s life can be draining and make constant stress feel normal. However, the rapidly growing Mindfulness Movement offers sales and business people a way to calm their worlds and help them make better decision in both work and home life.

Mindfulness is essentially about being in the moment, being aware of yourself and your environment. Originally a part of Buddhist practice, it has become separated from religion and is now an increasingly popular method for reducing stress in all aspects of life.

These are four of the cornerstones of how mindfulness can help you be more effective in business:

Remove distractions

Your mobile phone, a favourite website, social media: they all add up to many hours a month of distracting behaviour. Identify what are the unnecessary distractions in your working life and limit your use while at work. This is particularly effective in face-to-face meetings. Even if you’re the only one who has left their mobile in their briefcase (instead of laying on the table), you’ll be more focused during the meeting and better able to pick up on nuances than usual.

In your every day work life, limiting browsing websites, or checking your Twitter feed, will help you focus more on the job at hand – leaving you plenty of time later to find out how your football team is doing.

Feel the stress

The old adage of take a deep breath is a wise one. Whenever you feel stressed, whether in a meeting or on a call, take a moment to acknowledge the stress to yourself. You don’t have to be silent, find a phrase to pause the conversation naturally, such as ‘I’d like to write that down’, and while doing this take some deep breathes and let the tension ease away. This way you can refocus on what is really important about the conversation.

Be grateful

For salespeople, patience can be stretched during tricky negotiations. But the mindful salesperson has the knack of remaining in control. This is because they keep a gratitude diary. This is a book in which you physically write down all the things you are grateful for in your life. Research has shown that those who keep a diary, and remind themselves of the things they’re grateful for, are more patient. So when a customer is testing your patience, remember what you’re grateful for in life and you’ll find yourself making more balanced decisions.



Slow down…breathe…

Some of the world’s biggest businesses (such as Google) are leading the way in educating their employees in the power of mediating. Meditation is the mindful salesman’s keystone. Taking time out from your day for half an hour of meditation can seem like time wasted, but once you’ve found a slot for it, you’ll reap the benefits.

Meditation slows you down and focuses your mind. To begin with, do ten minutes. Mornings are usually the best time as you have less distractions, but you can meditate any time of the day, just make sure you have no distractions: turn off your mobile, switch off the computer, tell people not to disturb you.


Steve Halligan who coaches the ISM Professional Selling Skills course incorporates Meditation into his daily life…ask him all about it the next time you go on a course he is facilitating!

spider web

Some days will be slow but always plan ahead…

Even the most successful sales team suffers from slow days,but instead of worrying about losing sales,use these times wisely- catch up on areas of your business that usually get ignored, or take a chance to rest and get ready for the next busy cycle

Get out of the office

Whether you’ve been hitting targets consistently, or suffering from some bad runs, getting out of the office environment is a good way to recharge everyone’s batteries. Take your team for a stroll down JBR beach or around the Miracle Garden, go to the movies at the Grand Cinecity, or if you want something to get out of the city maybe a dune buggy tour. Whatever you do, make sure the whole team gets involved. You’ll all feel revitalised, and spending time away from the office helps build connections between team members.

Review your long term plan

When things are slow you can take time to sit down and analyse how the business’ long term sales plan is working. You’ll be able to discover patterns and trends that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, such as subtle dips and spikes in hitting sales targets, bottlenecks in the sales lifecycle, or even realise there’s a disconnect between sales and delivery. Although this should be done regularly, it is often pushed back when we’re busy – especially in small businesses where you could be wearing many different hats at once.

Take time to get to know newer employees

In a busy office environment new employees can be lost in the hubbub. Take the time given to you during a slow patch to get to know the newest members of your team. They may feel they’re a little out of their depth, have some feedback they’ve not had chance to give you, or have issues which, left unsaid, could mean you lose them a few months down the line.

Touch base with established clients

When we’re busy getting in new business, old clients can sometimes take a back seat. So when you’ve a quiet day pick up the phone and get in touch with clients you’ve not spoken to for a while. It’s a great time to find out how they are getting on with your product/service. It may lead to more business, or it may simply consolidate their feeling that you care about their business – potentially leading to more business in the future. It could also raise issues they’ve not had time to discuss with you: which is incredibly useful. You’ll learn more about your own business, and how it fits with your customer’s business going forward.

Review your routine

A good working routine is essential for being more productive and calmer in the office. If you don’t have a good routine, busy periods can seem out of control. Take back control and organise yourself (and your team) to have a more efficient way of working.

Slow patches give businesses the opportunity to become stronger, so the next time you have a slow day see it as a gift, not a problem.

Whether you’re pitching to a small Dubai ad agency or an international conglomerate, these are the sales tricks to avoid if you want to land a new client.

Start with the Price

When you start with the price, people can make a very simple yes and no decision. You’ve not made the effort to engage their emotions around a product, so they can only decide on whether they feel they can afford it. From this point on the conversation is doomed. Outlining the benefits before the price is always more effective.

Start at the lowest price

Sales psychology is pretty clear on this one: start with the lowest price model and the sale will nosedive. It’s possible you’ll get the sale, but it’ll be at the low end, not the mid range or high end price. Start high and work down to a comprise that makes the customer happy.

Sticking rigidly to the script

Even seasoned pros make this mistake. They go into autopilot and drone through the sales pitch without thinking about how it should be changed to appeal to different customers. However, don’t…

Ditch the script

Some people feel the loose, informal approach is more authentic. Well, it would be if it was prepared carefully beforehand. Just rocking up to a meeting and making it up as you go along, isn’t authentic; it makes you look like you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Talking fast


Listening is a key sales skill…

This trick may work on a market stall where you want to catch people’s attention quickly, but it doesn’t in a business environment. Customers want to have an engaging conversation, not sit and listen while you reel off the products benefits and why they should buy it.

Offer a discount during a pitch

Giving a discount, or extra benefits midway through your pitch sounds like it should clinch the deal. You have a great product and you’re offering them extras if they sign up straight away. The trouble is most people are suspicious of a deal that sounds too good. You look a little desperate and they’ll find someone who’s more interesting in their needs, rather than ticking off another sale on the monthly chart. Far better to tell them about an offer beforehand – it’s a far more credible approach than if it’s offered half way through the pitch.

Bad mouthing the competition

It’s an easy mistake to make. You’ve worked hard on finding all the reasons your product is better than the competition, so you work that into your pitch. However, the person in front of you might well be good friends with the CEO of the competition, and won’t take kindly to you rubbishing his friends. Focus on what your product can do for the customer and let them make the comparisons to the competition.

Dazzle with buzzwords

Excessive use of buzzwords during a sales pitch are a major turn off – to the extent you’ll not only lose the sale, you may discredit your company entirely. People like easy connections, a bit of banter and good hard facts they can make a clear decision on. Buzzwords should be used with extreme caution.





The world of sales techniques is littered with unethical practices. Whether you’re selling ice cream on the streets of New York, or a new point of sale software package to businesses in the Dubai Mall, you will have targets to meet and commissions to strive for. However, using unethical sales practices may work for you in the short term, but will seriously undermine your reputation in the long term.

Here are three practices that you should avoid, or use carefully.

Time limits

limited time offer

Hurry up! This offer will be retracted in the next 5 minutes!

Putting a time limit on a sale is a typical technique employed by salespeople. It is a way of pushing a customer into making a fast decision – but it may not give them sufficient time to truly consider whether it’s a good deal for them or not. Many people expect this in an end of season sale, but if you are trying to build a long-term relationship with a customer, it could leave them feeling less secure in their dealings with you.

Save the time limits for when they really do apply, for example, if you have a block of stock you want to get rid of and are genuinely offering all your customers the opportunity to purchase it at a reduced rate. By being honest with everyone, you’ll show that you are a company worth staying with.

Withholding the truth

You may feel that the deal is almost done; that you’re so close you can see the commission entering your bank account. But then the customer stalls, uncertain about a certain feature of the product. Do you assure the customer that the feature fits their needs perfectly, or admit that it may not at the moment?

These are the moments that sort out the ethical salesperson from the unethical. You can go for the fast sale and happily accept the commission, but you’ll also know that at some point down the line there will be come-back on that sale. The customer might demand a refund, and you may have to lie to your boss and wriggle out of the hole you’ve made for yourself.

Telling the truth in these circumstances is hard. You may lose the sale, but there is a way to show you are a conscientious sales person. You tell the customer you don’t know, but can find out. It takes longer this way, but you may be able to come back and tell them that although it’s not possible in it’s current state, you’ve spoken to the developers and changes can be made to accommodate the customer’s needs.

This doesn’t always work. Making a change to please one customer demanding changes no other customer needs, could be expensive and not give a good return. But it’s better for you and your company to make those decisions ethically, rather than sell something that the customer ultimately cannot use.

Ease up on the upselling

Upselling is common practice, but in some circumstances it can be downright unethical. The obvious one is selling insurance when none is required, or suggesting that additional equipment is needed to make a product more productive, when it clearly doesn’t.

To build a more harmonious relationship with your client, leave out the upsell and only suggest additional products when you have discussed them in detail with the customer and you can both see the benefits.

In sales, and most particularly for small businesses, how you treat your customers at the outset will determine the long-term success of your business relationship. Which is why it’s important to insist on ethical sales techniques from your sales team.

As any great salesman worth their salt knows, a good story can sell a product. Less well known is the power of a good story, or one-liner to motivate a sales team to achieve their potential. So whether you want to up your car sales or increase sales of delicious food at the Dubai Mall, here are some sales quotes to inspire your team.

1. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you have planted. – Robert Louis Stevenson

2. You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. – Patricia Fripp

3. Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your minds looks at what happens. – Khalil Gibran

4. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. – Tony Robbins

5. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

6. People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

7. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes of the goal. – Henry Ford

8. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. – Bill Crosby

9. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali

10. Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds will open to you. – Robert Kiyosaki

11. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein

12. Dream big and dare to fail – Norman Vaughan

13. The best sales questions have your expertise wrapped into them. Jill Konrath

14. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. – Jim Rohn

15. The way you position yourself at the beginning of a relationship has a profound impact on where you end up. – Ron Karr

16. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker

17. Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way. – Les Brown

18. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers

19. The more you love what you are doing, the more successful it will be for you. – Jerry Gillies

20. People don’t buy for logical reasons – they buy for emotional reasons. – Zig Ziglar

21. Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principal that holds all relationships. – Stephen Covey

Each quote can address different needs for inspiring your Dubai sales team, so take the time to consider which one applies to the changes happening in your sales area each week.

Business to business networking can really benefit your business in Dubai, but only if you approach it from the right angle. For many people, business networking conjures images of rooms full of pushy salesmen and women committing the sin of hard selling.

But it needn’t be like that. In fact, networking done properly is about businesses helping each other. If you’re always shied away through nerves or a fear of wasting your time with false people, it’s time to reassess your preconceptions and look at how much networking has changed.

It’s not about you

First of all, you have to park your ego at the door when it comes to networking. This is not a time to take over the conversation and talk, talk, talk. It’s a time to listen to people.

Giving your ear to others is the only way to get beyond the job title and business name. Great networkers take the time to get to know people, because it gives you a better idea of who they are and how good they are in business.

Make connections

nerve connections

We are all a bag of nerves but making connections helps growth. Personal and business !

The biggest mistake people make when networking is to try and sell from the get-go. But that’s not what networking is about – and the sooner you realise it, the more successful you’ll be at it.

More often it’s about helping people out. Once you get to know their business, you’ll soon see how other business people you know will benefit from their services or products.

By helping each other through networking, businesses grow organic relationships that will last much longer, and be more profitable as a result.

Think beyond the room

Despite the fact you are meeting and getting to know the people in the room, it’s the connections those people have that can prove more profitable in the long run. Think of your own business network. How many different business owners do you know? It’s going to be quite a lot. When you apply that to a room of 30 people, you start to understand why it’s important not to sell too hard to that small group. Forging relationships will eventually lead to business outside the room.

Do your research

As in any other area of business, research is everything. There will be many different business networking opportunities in your area. Some will compliment your business aims more than others. Go to as many as possible and then narrow it down to the ones that you feel are going to be the most effective for your business objectives.

Attend regularly

It’s only by attending these networking events regularly that you get the best results. Whether you go once a month, every week, or every quarter, the only way to get to know people is seeing them on a regular basis.

Networking can be a highly effective way of gaining new business. So brush up on your people skills, forget your nerves, and dive in.

It’s true that some salespeople have a natural talent for their profession, but it only applies to a small percentage. Even the most successful people will still have worked really hard to earn their reputation. So what does it take to become a successful salesman?

Be yourself

As the old adage goes, people buy from people. Regardless of whether a person wants, or needs a product, you want them to buy it from you – not the next shop down the mall. At the crunch point, especially in high stake sales environments, it can simply come down how well your potential customer likes you.

Sell the benefits

Thanks to some serious marketing research in the mid-twentieth century, we now know that people only want to know what’s in it for them. It really doesn’t matter that your new sprocket is the most advanced on the market to a customer. Professional salesmen sell on how the product will enhance a person’s life.

Use statistics wisely

If 60% of your customers only buy from you because you provide great customer service, shout about it. People feel reassured when they learn others are benefiting from buying from you. Transversely, there is a small minority who prefer to be outsiders – so know your market and use the statistics judiciously.

Get networking

In the hard-nosed world of business to business selling, the best way to find new customers is networking. These days there are numerous networking clubs for businesses, either professionally organised business breakfast style networking or local government networking. Try out as many as possible in your sales territory.

Qualify potential sales

Make sure the person you’re selling to has an actual need for your product. It’s a simple piece of advice, but very powerful. From the market stall holder calling out to passing trade, to a pre-arranged telephone sales call, knowing if someone needs your product saves everyone a lot of time and effort.

Know your supply chain

There are simple sales and then there are business sales. A simple sale is telling a customer a hat looks good on them. In the complex world of business sales, you have to be more aware of everything that’s going on in your business, and your customer’s business. Supply chain issue on your side have the potential to disrupt their business as well. Make it your job to manage the supply chain on behalf of your customer.

Set sales targets

A target is a great motivational force in business. You might exceed your goal of x number of sales in Q1, or fail to get even half, but at least you have a benchmark. By setting a target you make yourself think about how to bring in more business and begin to map out your sales strategy.

Have a sales strategy

With your target in place, you need a strategy to get to it. In most established businesses, there will be some tried and trusted methods of bringing in new business and getting out more from old customers. It doesn’t do any harm to dust these old strategies down occasionally. Take a look at them afresh and see if new methodologies, software, or mediums (such as social media) have anything valuable to add to your strategy.



A seasoned sales person will tell you that the key to a successful year is a well thought out sales plan. Without one, your Dubai sales team is going to drift through the year unsure of how to propel potential growth for your company.

sales planning

ISM is the leader in sales training for the Gulf region and runs a highly regarded Sales Planning and Territory Management course.

Sure, you may hit lucky occasionally by landing a few new customers, or getting work in through existing customers. However, without a plan how can you be sure you’ve got the right people, in the right places, selling to the right customers? You also need to be aware of the product cycle – is your company making enough product to fulfill orders, or that there is sufficient demand for what you’re producing.

Even in the service industries, thorough sales planning will reap rewards. This is because a good sales plan isn’t just a quickly written document of where you hope to be in twelve months time, it is a complete overview of what your targets are for the year and how you will achieve those targets.

So the best place to start planning isn’t necessarily with a sales team meeting. You need to get key members of the company together to discuss all aspects of what is happening in the coming months.

Understanding how other departments are working is essential to creating a successful sales plan. If you are bringing out a new product in Q3, you need to know what marketing is being done around it, whether there are supply chain issues, what the production schedule is, as well as knowing what benefits the new product is bringing to your customers.

With this knowledge you can create a more targeted sales plan with your sales team. This plan must include the following:

Who is customer?

Do you really know who your customer is? It’s vital to any serious sales plan to identify both the real customer and potentially bad customers. Looking through sales to existing customers will clarify this area. Who are the ones who keep coming back and who are you wasting time on?

Reaching out

Take time out to understand how you’re best able to reach your target market and get them interested in what you’re selling. There may be barriers to using your product over another company’s – find out what they are and how best to show customers what you’re offering is superior.

Clearly defined goals

At the outset make it clear to everyone in the team what your objectives are in the sales plan. When all members of the team know what the goal is, they can pull together to make it happen.

Sales Budget

You need to know what the budget is and how to make the most of it. You may need to reach customers at trade shows, conferences, networking events, and street level sales events. Without a tight control on your budget, the cost of gaining new customers could impact on profits.

Territory planning

Establish who is going to cover which areas as soon as possible. By doing this you will be giving ownership and a certain level of control to members of your team. Within the territorial agreements your team can develop individual sales plans specific to that territory.

Recruitment and training

When setting out the sales plan you have to decide whether your team needs to grow. Identify at what point you’re going to need that additional support and plan how you are going to recruit and train new members to your team.

You can learn a lot about product placement in shops by looking around your local supermarket. Competition for customers is so fierce that supermarkets no longer rely on simple price comparisons to get people into their shops.

Here are nine ways supermarkets arrange their stores to maximise profit:

Front of store

There are two trends you’ll notice at the front of any store. One is usually the fresh fruit and vegetables and the other is quick items like sandwiches and flowers. The quick items are there because supermarkets understand that some people are literally only going to nip in and out and will react better to what they need being easily accessible. The fruit and vegetables look better in natural light and also the expanse of green puts shoppers in a better frame of mind. This is because green is a relaxing colour.

End of aisle

Shoppers don’t naturally go up and down every aisle in a supermarket. They dip in and out of the ones they need to go down. Which is why the end of each aisle is so valuable. Here shoppers are more likely to react positively to discounted ranges, promotions for new products, and two for one offers.

High traffic zones

In every store there are areas that shoppers pass through most frequently. These are the best places for sample stands, or to promote new products, or to sell discounted items quickly. It’s also where impulse buy products are most likely to be found.

Big no no’s

In today’s supermarkets you can buy just about anything, but you’ll never find the clothing section right next to fresh food. There is always a buffer zone of dried food, cosmetics, home accessories, or electronics. This is because research shows clothes and food don’t naturally mix in people’s minds.

Flooring and shelves

Premium products have subtly different surroundings than every day products. In some shops the flooring turns from linoleum to wood when you enter the alcohol section. Expensive and exotic ingredients are often on differently colour display units, than everyday ingredients. The surroundings encourage shoppers to feel they are making a special purchase.

Eye level shopping

 grocery store dubai

Best to ask in a neighborhood store if you want to find something as space is at a premium !

Eye level placement of products is a great method to increase sales. A product will sell significantly more if it is on the eye level of the target buyer. So products aimed at children, like soft cheeses and cheese sticks are slightly lower so the child can see them and alert their parents to put them in the trolley. A higher value product is often placed on the middle shelf so that people are more likely to see it and buy it. Those looking for value range products will usually find them down at ankle level.

Impulse buys at the till

Supermarkets know what shoppers will find most appealing dependent on the weather. On rainy days you’ll find umbrellas next to tills, on bright sunny days, it’ll be sunglasses. And as you queue up, there are usually an array of sweets, magazines, and easy to handle promotional literature to grab your attention.

Side by side

Some products are placed next to others deliberately. You’ll often find crisps and soft drinks very close because the purchase of one leads to an increase in sales of the other.

Future Research

The research behind product placement in supermarket is getting very high tech. Security cameras can now transmit behaviour data back to computers. Originally used to analyse anti-social behaviour, the software is increasingly attracting the attention of supermarkets. Shopper behaviour can be monitored and product placement changed to increase sales.


The majority of businesses have a handful of really great customers. They’re the people who order regularly, pay on time and come back time and again. But are you being complacent? Do your best customers get the best treatment from your Dubai sales team? Or have you forgotten the basic rules for retaining customers?

Customer retention is one area of sales that is often overlooked in the rush to find new customers. New customers equal growth, right? Well not always. Treat your older customers well and your business will be healthier for it.

Some basic lessons in customer retention are:

Involve your customers

The more ambitious your new project, product, or service, the more testing you are going to have to do. Which is why it’s a good idea to select a small number of your older, more trusted customers and rope them into some beta testing.

This is a great way to show them how much you value their input into developing new stuff. You can invite them in at the early planning stages, or if that seems too soon, wait until when you feel you have something that’s ready to be tested in the environment you want to sell it in.

In the business to consumer market this is a well-established way of testing how a product is going to be received by the public. In the business-to-business community this type of feedback is invaluable – you will learn a lot about how your new product is going to be used in the real world.

Over-deliver on your promises

Customers who order from you without needing a call, or come in frequently to buy your products might not seem like they need much attention – but they are often the ones who need it most.

You’ve sold your product or services to them but do you know how they perceive that sale? Do they stay with you because it’s easier than going elsewhere? Very often this is the case. They’ve made an investment in you and don’t want the hassle of changing.

However, they could change and often do so out of the blue. The best way to retain a customer is to over deliver on their expectations. Go that extra mile for them. Find out how they are using your product or service and see if you can improve on how they use it. Maybe do an audit – are they paying more than a new customer? Is there an added benefit they’re not receiving because it came in after they became a customer?

If a customer feels like you are looking out for their best interests, they’re more likely to stick with you than go to a competitor.

Customer retention incentives for sales teams

Make customer retention part of your monthly sales team meetings. Don’t just give your team a bonus for new business: give them a bonus for retaining long standing customers.

Give your team the tools to identify who are the long term customers, what value they bring to the company and what you can do the help them stay as customers.

With the right thought processes in place and a good customer retention strategy, your company can grow more effectively and you wont see that dreaded marker of a high turn over of customers.

ISM 2005

A group from way back in 2005 attending Coaching with Philip Parker

ISM have delivered corporate training in Sales, Marketing and Leadership in Dubai and the Gulf region for 15 years. We are proud that customers keep coming back to us but never take them for granted . Returning clients are highly valued and we reward them accordingly.The record so far by a single client stands at 11 public courses attended, a marvelous testament to our UK trainers,course standards and client confidence!


Don't let your sales efforts go up in smoke !

When you’ve been given a qualified lead, it’s your job to make sure the initial phone call doesn’t lead to a dead end. How to turn a qualified lead into a sale is one of the hardest hurdles in a salesperson’s job. Yet if you follow the simple rules below, your chances of success will increase significantly.

Be personable

Remember that the person on the other end of the phone hasn’t spoken to you before, and instinctively doesn’t trust you. If you jump in and immediately turn on the sales speak, the qualified lead may well just put the phone down on you. So let an element of chat enter the conversation. Take the time to show the person on the other end of the line that you are a human being as well as a salesperson.

Guide the conversation

Whilst you need to get personable, you don’t want to the conversation to turn to non-business topics. You may find you both love Nadel, but you need to steer the conversation towards how your product can help their business, not who won a recent tournament.

Don’t be aggressive

You have to keep the conversational tone light. Don’t start being aggressive. Not only will they end the call quickly, they may even make a complaint to your company. You will have lost the sale and possibly receive a reprimand.

Listen carefully

It may be that the qualified lead has been looking forward to your call. They could very well have already recognised that they need your service or product. When you call them, don’t just launch into your sales patter, listen carefully for signs that they are ready to buy. If you just plough through your script, you may put them off, so take it slowly, listen carefully, and be flexible enough to follow their lead.

Don’t make false claims

Remember that turning a qualified lead into a sale doesn’t give you the right to make up stats, claim your product or service can do something it can’t, or lie. You may be found out straight away and you’ll lose the sale there and then. Even if you do get to the point where you’ve made the sale, the customer will eventually find out and probably won’t order from you again.

Don’t be too pushy

This is a little like aggression, but probably wont get you in as much trouble at work, but might lose you the sale. A potential customer knows you are on the phone to make a sale, and they’ve agreed to the call so are willing to listen to what you’re offering. But they don’t want to feel that you are forcing them to buy something they may not need. Assess their needs honestly. If they really don’t need what you’re selling today and you are honest, they will have more respect for you. Push beyond the point where they feel comfortable and you will lose out.

Ask lots of questions

Make the effort to really get to know the person’s business and what they need. This is a two way street. You will benefit from really knowing how their company works, what their problems are and how you can help. They get the reassurance that you are genuinely interested and not just after a quick sale regardless of their needs.

Remember, a qualified lead can become a sale, but only if you don’t scare them off in the short time you have on the phone to them. Be responsive, respectful and listen carefully to what they are saying.

Being a great salesperson means remembering that some of your best sales don’t come from new clients, but from established ones. They’re the ones who have already bought into your product before and they are more likely to buy into it again.

It pays dividends to keep in touch !

Keep in touch

In the race to get new business it’s easy to forget old contacts and business customers. But a really good salesperson knows not to do that. Keep track of when you meet clients and what they are doing. If there is a conference coming up, that’s the perfect time to get in touch with old clients and see if they are going. If they are, arrange to meet up. Talking in a social setting is a more relaxed way to remind your old customers that your business is still there for them


When talking to customers keep your ear open for opportunities to cross sell products. Depending on the setting, you may want to set up another, more business orientated meeting to discuss what else you company has that will help the customer.

Analyse your customer base

The vast majority of your business will come from a small number of clients. Sitting down and identifying those clients is essential. Knowing which clients order more of your product or service, than any other, means you can specifically target them first when offering a new product.


As in everything, planning is the key ingredient to being successful. Give yourself some time to sit down and go through what you want to achieve in the next 12-month period. You can break this down into how to leverage the relationships you have with current customers and what you can do to create new customers. Using the information you’ve gathered from looking at the most lucrative customers, you’ll know how to offer them a better service. You may also see how that relationship developed from a cold start to being profitable. Once you know how it was done once, you can look at ways of replicating it with another potential customer.

Perfect your presentation

It’s pointless trying to shy away from it – every salesperson has to a sales pitch or presentation at some point. Which is why you need to make it as perfect as possible. Remember a sales presentation is your chance to show customers and potential customers how your product will add real benefit to their business. Don’t go overboard with words like ‘exciting’, ‘wonderful’, ‘innovative’. Instead focus on why you think it’s all these things. Remember to always show the benefits of your products and how they will make life better for your customer. This approach is more valid, and the customer can identify more easily with it.

Stretch yourself

If you have mastered the art of keeping in touch with old customers, you may well feel quite comfortable without having to go out and find new business. But, as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on a small number of customers to keep you business going. Calling a new lead can be daunting, but done right it will produce new business – you never know, one of those may well become the best customer you’ve ever had.

Being a successful sales person in Dubai is no different from a sales role in London, New York or Mumbai. You have to have work on your current customer list and take the time to find new customers periodically.

Your sales team would probably prefer to be out and about selling your products and services to companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, than sitting around a table talking tactics and forecasting. So when you get your team to sit still and listen, make it count and get them involved.

Have more than one idea

When considering you next sales strategy, don’t just dig out and use last year’s methods and use them again. Look around for another way of doing things. What worked (or in some cases, didn’t work) last year, may not work as well this year. Your sales team may have exceeded targets on last year’s strategy, but there is no guarantee the same will happen this year.

Review what parts of the strategy did well, and which parts didn’t do well. Get some stats on how the market has changed, and look at how you can make the best of those changes.

And then, create two strategies. With two different strategies, you can see the pitfalls in each far more objectively than if you only have one to look at. Hone it down until you have one plan that you are confident will work.

Talk to your customers

With an economy that is plateauing at best, shrinking at worst, it does well to see what changes your customers are dealing with. Talk to your customers; see if their priorities have change since last year. This could be as simple as taking some of your main clients/customers out for a lunch. Although the business lunch is not as glorious as it was in the boom years, it is still vital to your business to keep that connection with your customers. If you have a broad, public customer base, a street level vox pop will help you gauge their attitude to your products, industry and what they are cutting down on or spending more on.

Be vigilant

It can be tempting, when new information comes in, to allow new information to inform the strategy, without giving it the same vigorous review used at the beginning of the process.

It is also very easy to lose sight of the original strategy. Measure how the strategy is working regularly: don’t wait for the end of each quarter, check out your successes and failures on a weekly basis. Trends are easier to spot that way. If you are off the mark, go back to the original sales strategy and find out why it’s not working.

Train the person, not the team

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on individuals in a training session, yet to get the best out of every member of your team, you have to focus on individual strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is different so instead of trying to make everyone the same, work with them to make the most of their personality. It will make them better sales people because they wont come across to clients and customers as being false.

Look to the future

You may not have the budget to hire a futurologist in your business just yet, but you do need to think about the future of your products and services. How long a shelf life do they have? Is there a natural lifespan? How are external pressures changing your industry, and your client base? Think about how your business model needs to change in the next year, 10 years, and 50 years to keep your business viable. Do you want your business to be the biggest and best of its type in Dubai, or are you looking to expand into the rest of the Middle East, or become a large international corporation? Questioning your company in this way will help you form a more robust and forward thinking strategy.


Selling in understandably at the core of every business, which means your Dubai sales team is very much the heart of your company. If they are underachieving on a regular basis there must be a reason for it, and more often than not it stems from a lack of motivation. After all, what do they get for marketing your products far and wide and then making huge sales other than their basic wage packet and maybe a pat on the back once in a while?

Billionaire entrepreneur, Sir Alan Sugar once said, ‘Love what you do and do what you love, otherwise you will become unhappy and self-defeating’ and the last thing you want, or need, is an unhappy, self-defeating sales team.

So how do you motivate your sales team to produce better results on an on-going basis?

1. Give them Training in New Marketing Strategies

You may not think that your small, Dubai-based sales team needs any additional training, but the simple act of showing them new marketing strategies and explaining new technologies to them will result in increased motivation.


Well firstly you’re showing your sales team that you have enough confidence in them to bother training them in new methods of selling. Confidence and motivation are very much interlinked, which means if you go to the trouble of showing confidence in your employees they will become motivated to prove your confidence is well placed.

Secondly, any new selling techniques or marketing strategies that you teach them will undoubtedly improve their sales figures, and ultimately your profits.

2. Praise them for a Job Well Done

It doesn’t matter whether you are based in Dubai, the UAE or elsewhere in the world, praise for a job well done is incredibly motivational, and especially when it comes from someone who is high up in the management team. Larger companies in particular tend to forget that their sales teams are in fact human, and that they thrive on praise rather than criticism.

Think about it for just one minute…when was the last time you actually said well done to a specific member of your sales team? We don’t mean a general ‘well done’ during a team briefing, we mean a personal ‘good job’ to a high-achieving member of your team?

3. Give them an Incentive


All it takes is a bit of motivation to produce a successful sales team.

Everybody likes a bit of competition which is why pitting your sales team against each other (in a friendly, fun way of course) can motivate them to achieve more. Add into the mix a little incentive each month and you have the recipe for a much more productive sales team.

Obviously you don’t need to offer things like new cars and holidays as incentives, but small things such as a day off with pay, or a meal out in a nice restaurant is something to aim for in addition to the accolade of being top sales person for the month. Plus, if you change the goal each month e.g. top overall sales one month but top sales to new clients the next month etc. you can manipulate the results to an extent so that everyone in your sales team has the opportunity of ‘winning’.

Making continued sales in today’s economy is not an easy prospect which is why you need to give your Dubai sales team all the encouragement and praise they need to make it happen. Show faith in them and they will reward you with better results in return, and you might just have a bit of fun along the way.



So what are you selling to your customers in Dubai? Are you selling all the details of what your product can do? How long it took you to bring it to market? All the research and develop that went into it?

giant squid

Is your product launch going to be a damp squid ?

Well if that is all you’re selling then you are missing a fairly important trick. Very few people are interested in these as selling points. They want to know how your product is going to make their life easier. Not how many man-hours went into perfecting it before it came to the boardroom sign off.

In the 1940s, Rosser Reeves, of Ted Bates & Company came up with the term ‘unique selling point’. It translates into what is so unique about this product that makes it better than it’s rivals? What specific benefit does this product that means it is something more desirable than another product?

Reeves was a pioneer of television advertising, a man for whom the idea that you just show your product and hope people buy was wasting an opportunity. He felt that not only did a product have to be said to better than its rivals, it really had to be better. You had to find what was unique, what the real benefit of a product was and use that as the unique selling point.

So when you look at your sparkling new product which has taken hundreds of man-hours to research, develop and manufacture, you need to strip away the extraneous back story and look at why your customer needs it.

There are generally three ways of selling a product: through its value to the customers, it’s benefit to the customer and its features. Find which one of these is going to appeal most to the end user (who may well be a customer of your customer), and build your sales campaign around it.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve developed a piece of software that untangles accounting procedures, automatically updates with new legislation, and cuts the time it takes to process accounts.

Ask yourself the question, what do we lead with? What is the real benefit for your client? Time is money, so cutting time means saving money. But do they really want the headache of updating legislation removed? Is it both? Or have you missed something more essential? Is your product easy to use? At some point during the development process was there a point where the actual usability of the product was left unquestioned?

Software can have all the bells and whistles you think your customer wants, but if it is difficult to use, looks ugly, isn’t intuitive, then the end users isn’t going to like it, regardless of how much time it saves, and how easily it integrates important information.

Find the unique selling point, find the real benefit of your product, and you can really start to sell your product to customers in Dubai, and the rest of the world.

Your pitch is going to win or lose you a sale. So you have to make sure that when you walk into a meeting in downtown Dubai your sales pitch is perfect. But there are ways of pitching well and ways of doing it that will turn off your prospect.

Don’t Over Prepare

burj dubai

Just before you enter a meeting is not the time to prepare your sales pitch....even if you are taking the elevator in the Burj Khalifa !

Yes, you need to know your script so well that you could reel if off in your sleep. But if you take that into a meeting, you’ll put people off for several reasons. First of all, there is no room in a perfect pitch to listen to your customer. They sit there silently and while you do all the talking.

It’s boring sitting around for half an hour listening to someone talk. So give the client plenty of opportunity to talk about their needs.

Give a Time Constraint

Again, don’t bore your customer. Give a strict time to present to them and, just as importantly, leave a definite amount of time for questions and answers. Tell them at the outset of the meeting how long you have to will take to give an outline of how you think your product could develop their business.

A timed meeting not only keeps everyone on track, it also gives the impression that you have somewhere to be afterwards. This nicely leads to the next point:

The Client is King

Yes, you need to ensure the client knows that this pitch is all about them, and all about how it’s going to make their life better. But at the same time, you are selling yourself as well as the product; so don’t fall into the trap of agreeing with everything they say. You have to come across as the expert, the one they want to see again. You can’t put yourself into too weak a position or they will lose confidence in you, and then lose confidence in what you are presenting.

Papering over the Cracks

If there is some bad news in the pitch, such as the numbers not adding up to the customer’s preferred price bracket, don’t fluff it. Make sure you know the numbers, and more importantly, know how to overcome any objections that might arise from this. People don’t like the wool being pulled over their eyes and if they spot something doesn’t add up, they won’t thank you for pretending it does.

Even worse, if you do seal the deal and later down the line the customer finds it’s costing them more than you said it would, you’ll lose respect, and maybe lose future sales.

Death by PowerPoint

Don’t overload your customers with a huge range of data, statistics, graphs and projected earnings. You need to keep your prospect interested and connected while you are presenting to them. You’ll see their eyes glaze over if you just give them a huge about information. Get them involved on an emotional level instead; show them how your product is going to make their life better.

So next time you are preparing to present to your most important Dubai client, find out all you can about their business and how your product or service is going to make their life better. And then put that into the context of a pitch that doesn’t kill the deal half way through the meeting.

overcoming objections

You can't make a deal if there are objections in the way....

It would be highly unusual for you to sit with a new customer who didn’t have some objections. It’s human nature to question the relative merits of a new product. This is as true of the downtown Dubai market trader as it is of Jumeirah resident. How you counter their objections will often mean the difference between selling your product or walking home empty handed.

Listen to the Customer’s Objections

It may sound rather obvious, but it is surprising how often people simply don’t bother to listen to what the customer is saying. Instead they are thinking about the many ways they can convince this person to buy. By just stopping the inner voice and listening to the outer voice of the customer, you’ll get a much better idea of what their real objections are, and then you’ll be able to address them specifically. This, rather than addressing the issues you have in your own mind, will encourage the customer to feel valued: it’s not often a sales person actually listens to you.

Talk up the Benefits

It’s a common mistake to talk about how great your product is. You can talk at length about how lovely and shiny it is, how many hours have gone into its development, what were your biggest hurdles on the road to production. Problem is, your customer doesn’t want to hear that. The customer wants to know what your product is going to do for them. How is it going to improve their lives, make their life easier, less stressful, or even make them appear cooler, richer, and more beautiful. Focus on the benefits of the product to each individual customer, and they’ll start to see how your product might be worth buying after all. Look at it from their point of view. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not talking about getting so completely into your customer’s mind-set that you start to doubt your own product. No, it’s about empathising with the person and trying to understand where their objections come from. Once you’ve find their perspective, you’ll find it easier to show the customer why your product will actually be worth their time and money.

Don’t Lie

Only the salesman who believes he’s never returning to a particular customer, region, country, will rely on fabricating the truth when it comes to a sale. If you are in charge of a region you need to be honest with your customers, especially when you know you’ll be seeing them again soon. When you say a product is going to make their life better, make sure the product you’re selling can fulfil your promise.

Emphasise the Value, not the price

If someone is telling you that your product is too expensive, then you’ve not sold him or her on the value your product will add to their life or to their business. The best way to overcome objections based on price to really give them the proof that your product is worth what you are selling it for. If they say it’s too expensive for them, that they can’t afford it, well that is a different matter entirely. If a person really doesn’t have the budget available, you should ask when the company will have a budget for a product like yours. When they tell you, arrange to meet them a couple of weeks before the magic date to discuss it further.

Timing is everything

If the major objection is delivery timescales, the best way of overcoming this objection is to tell your customer that you will work on that with them. Going that extra mile for a customer by sitting down with your delivery team and seeing if you can help that customer’s particular delivery needs, is going to pay off. They’ll see you don’t just see them as a one off sales, you actually value their business and are willing to get your Dubai delivery schedule moved to accommodate their needs.

derren brown

Some people can effortlessly incorporate NLP into their communication skills.Can you?

How often have you seen people rolling their eyes when neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is mentioned in your Dubai sales office? It’s a commonly held misconception that NLP is dated, tired and slightly embarrassing. On the flip side it has a reputation for being a mind controlling dark art.

Of course, none of this is really true. NLP is as relevant today as it was when John Grinder and Richard Bandler first researched it in 1972. Grinder was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California and Bandler a student of psychology at the same university.

Their aim was not to create a new branch of psychology, but to find out what made certain therapists so good at their job. In doing so they created models of behaviour to enable better communication between people: and they named it NLP. This was not some snake-oil cure-all to be sold at the side of road; it was devised by serious academics looking to build more effective ways of modelling excellence in others.

The hokum concept of NLP derives from the fact that anything to do with changing a person’s perception of the world is viewed with suspicion. We are hardwired to be resistant to people messing with our minds. However, when our methods of dealing with the world are proving unsuccessful, finding a new, well researched model is a good thing.

This is one of the reasons NLP has lasted so long. It is now applied in business, education, health, therapy and law: not areas that would rely on something for forty years unless it was working.

And how does NLP help your sales team in Dubai? Well, the modelling aspect is very important for sharing successful sales techniques that drive up the overall effectiveness of your team.

You will have heard of the hunter and farmer mentality in a sales team. The hunters go out and catch a prospect with no worries about whether you have to go back a second time. The farmer will tend his flock of prospects so they feel happy to come back for another purchase.

NLP may seem, on the surface, to be perfect for the hunter: there are techniques for matching body language and breathing rates, keeping eye contact. However, it really is about building relationships with strangers that have long lasting benefits for both parties. It’s the win/win model of sales and marketing. You win a sale and your customer gets the product or service that will make their life easier or more exciting.

But learning these techniques is not as easy as cracking open the latest best seller. It will do a great job of introducing you to the techniques, but it doesn’t give you the real, hands on learning experience that will really benefit your ability to create a successful sales force.

ISM run targeted courses on how to successfully use NLP in a sales environment so that you don’t make basic mistakes and ruin the deal before you start. The Institute of Sales and Marketing NLP course is a sales master class aimed primarily at those who may have already attended our popular Professional Selling Skills and would like to explore NLP sales in a 2 day hands on workshop.


There is a great debate surrounding over the validity of NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, but the major question for your sales team in Dubai is: can NLP benefit us in a sales situation?

You may not have heard of NLP, but only if you are new to the sales arena, because whether you are a saleswoman in Dubai or a super sales guy in New York, NLP is part of the sales toolkit.


Can't decide ? Let Yoda persuade you....

Some people believe that is a form of the Jedi Mind Tricks and find it laughable, however, it does well to remember that NLP started life as a therapeutic system to help people overcome problems in their life. The methods used to help people can be used positively to help sales people listen to their customers in a much more productive way. Good practice NLP techniques are also an excellent way to learn how to better communicate how your products will really benefit your customers.

One of the major demands on sales people is to try and persuade the prospective customer that their product is better than the competition’s product. In fact, they have to go one step further and convince the prospect that not only is the product better, it is so good that the customer willingly takes out their wallet and buys it from them.

To do this you have to be persuasive. Some people are naturally good at it and have probably been wrapping the world around their fingers since toddlerhood. Since not everyone has this innate skill, it is fortunate that one aspect of NLP does address this. It is called language patterns and helps you learn how to create a sentence that will direct people’s attention in the direction you want to go: your product!

According to bestselling author, Rintu Basu, there are tried and tested ways to use this technique. An example Basu uses during an interview on Your Charisma Coach, is the sentence: “The issue isn’t x, it is y”. It’s simple way of moving the conversation in the direction you want it to be going in.

Some people feel this conversation management technique intriguing, and at the other extreme there are some who think it is down-right immoral. Now, as a Dubai advertising executive or marketing junior, you are of course trying to get a person to buy your product or service over your competition’s product or service. This is not quite the same as trying to make that person do something they aren’t already thinking of doing.

Because there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about NLP, it is one area where a training course is really beneficial. For a professionally organised, systematic approach that will really give your sales team a boost next time they go to see a potential new client or customer, visit the Institute of Sales and Marketing website for details of their latest courses in Dubai on Professional Selling Skills. You can learn about how NLP can turn you into a more professional questioner, listener and communicator. A soon to be launched course is an NLP sales two day workshop which gives sales professionals a chance to really practice their NLP sales skills in a safe environment before using them to create rewarding customer relationships.